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Sibling Rivalry

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Ever since we had gone our separate ways, I found myself stopping in every other step I took. Anger. Doubt. Worry. Regret. Indecision. Resolve. Anger once again. Not knowing what I was seeking and not knowing if it would satisfy me even should I find it. I did find it, I thought. I lost it. I kept trying, not for strength of commitment but rather for the opposite. I had no other choice.

Well, that wasn’t exactly true, of course. Each whisper of the Scions, of their champion, the Warrior of Light, chipped at my pride and my resistance alike, and whispers were there aplenty. To think that I’d even hear Alphinaud’s name praised so much and so often. As expected, he had been keeping himself all too busy, most likely pushing his nose far into business not remotely of any consequence to him.

So many days went by. I kept on my course the whole while, prying into some business not my own, myself, but I couldn’t maneuver mentalities to my favor like my brother can do. I know well my own strengths as well as the fact that they can in turn be my faults. I’m hasty and reckless, stemming from my impatience, and I force the hands that Alphinaud would steady. Even if I know it, when I hit my limit, everyone else will inevitably come to know it just as well. What good was I doing on my own? What answers did I receive for setting my own path? Was I truly walking it, or was it pulling me along helplessly?

Each time these thoughts arose, I would take to the field. I would fight, fight, fight, and fight again. It was because I wasn’t strong enough in so many various ways, and I needed to prove what I could accomplish to my wounded sense of self. The results wouldn’t surface soon enough for my liking, naturally, but nonetheless, one thing I refused to ignore was my training. Pride aside, I didn’t consider myself ready to pledge allegiance to the Scions and their cause. I wouldn’t stand at their side without anything to offer. Still, I aided them in my own way, now and again. Sometimes, it was unintentional, but others? Mayhap I was testing myself to see if I had yet achieved any semblance of personal growth.

I was so frustrated with myself, but I kept cursing those in my wake for it. It was only Grandfather’s memories nestled in the deepest recesses of my mind that I had to admonish such childishness… Though, I wonder if I would have heard it so fiercely as I had if not for the news of my brother’s exploits drifting on the winds around me. At any rate, it was a long and arduous journey I had haphazardly set out for myself, and it was only the more vexing as I struggled to come to terms with that very fact.

As it turns out, even an internal battle will take its toll eventually. Perhaps I had actually matured a bit, or maybe I was just tired of the farce. Maybe it was an innate sense of duty when I happened upon the information of the rumored group of adventurers who had taken to slaying primals in the Scions’ stead. Most likely, it was nothing more than sheer coincidence that it led to my reuniting with my brother and his trusted companions. Coincidence… with a hint of inevitability from my distinct lack of personal growth as I had carelessly rushed into an unfavorable situation. When I first opened my eyes, and I saw him standing there with such worry on his face, as if I had been an ally the whole while and not some spoiled child who stormed off in a huff so long ago. The Warrior of Light. Though my senses were wholly confounded on account of my own misstep, I remember that such a small thing had brought me such comfort.

And yet, the circumstances being as they were, that was hardly the foremost thought in my mind. I was concentrated solely on the duty before me, and I still selfishly thought it my responsibility as the one who had so unceremoniously initiated it. Looking back, I was so focused on myself that I certainly made a poor excuse for a colleague. It turns out that one can hardly expect to change oneself by force of willpower alone… I hadn't yet learned the so obvious truth of what power others can have on your character… how much power even a single entity could provide. I first realized that, too, by the observing of mine own dear brother.

When was it that I first noticed? Or, more accurately, that I first took notice as it was ever there in front of me, but I suppose it was of little consequence to me then. Boy, reminiscing like this is almost painful in terms of how often I was so blind to what is now so front and foremost on my mind. No, not foremost , of course. Even now, there are many responsibilities to which I am bound, but every time I seem to let my guard down, there invades those thoughts again. But I digress.

Ah, yes. I suspected it early on, at that meeting which would restructure the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. Alphinaud was business as usual throughout, as expected, but once it was his turn to take the spotlight… Well, of course, I knew all about the circumstances that led to his change of heart, all of the trouble that he had gotten himself into. So it wasn’t surprising that he would refuse, and yet… I could feel the weight of his influence keeping my brother’s feet on solid ground rather than lifting his head up into the clouds. With a smile, I had joked that he could keep the peace between us when we would inevitably bicker. I wanted him to continue supporting Alphinaud as he had been, though he hardly needed my permission or even any guidance to do so, I knew. Still, perhaps I was staking my claim of sorts? More like I was forcefully inserting myself into the narrative, but… “Making up for lost time” wasn’t quite the right sentiment, since as I mentioned, it was instantly as though none had passed at all.

But there I go talking about myself again. Alphinaud. This is about Alphinaud! So there was the time that I had an inkling, but I came to be more sure of it as time passed: the fact that the two of them have a very special bond. I mean, that much is obvious, but… How long I wondered back and forth, stared from one to the other, analyzed and overanalyzed, trying to figure out whether I was seeing things as they were or if it was mere conjecture on my part. But you know, Alphinaud is just so dense! I keep saying “obvious” and “of course” and things like that, but for the one in person, I can just picture his stupid face gaping open like a cactuar, saying something like, “Huh?” or more formally, “What exactly is it you’re trying to say?” He can be so annoying like that sometimes… He’s so candid about everything that he can be, so it’s not his fault if he’s hiding something he hasn’t yet realized himself. That was the conclusion that I drew, and so I’ve never broached the subject with him as a result. Not… directly.

“The two of you are getting along so well!” I would tell him, nudging my elbow into his ribcage for effect. I was expecting even a hint of color to rush to his face, but he just nodded and smiled, saying, “We have been with each other through much, after all. ‘Twould be strange if we were not.”

But then? When he finished his thoughts, that smile became gentler, and his eyes transfixed on something out of view: a memory, perhaps, or simply a feeling. That’s what I was getting at with my comment… you idiot. The two of them were naturally close, but there was something more, at least from Alphinaud’s end. I would tease him in this nondescript fashion every now and again, but it doesn’t seem that he’s ever picked up on it. Finally, I thought that perhaps I ought to spell it out for him, but when that day came... 

I couldn’t do it. By then, it was too late. I couldn’t be a sister who properly encouraged her twin brother towards love anymore. Because… My heart would no longer allow me to give itself away without a fight, no matter who the opponent was.

Why? Why did we both have to fall for the same person…? I’ve tried and tried to beat this crazy notion out of my head, to deny my feelings — not even necessarily for the sake of my brother but for the absurdity alone that is me having… those sorts of feelings. Furthermore, I hadn’t journeyed with him for nearly as long, nor endured with him nearly as much. But… each time he leaves my side, the world feels just a bit colder. I’m gripped with an anxiety I’ve not felt since the last Calamity. A feeling that if anything should ever befall this person... 

There’s nothing for thinking like that. But, just as I began by observing Alphinaud, so too must I admit when I find the same signs within myself. Especially when… it’s been nearly a year since we’ve been apart. Thancred, Urianger, Y’shtola, Alphinaud… and me. We’ve been waiting for so long in this new, foreign and yet familiar world, for the embodiment of hope, the one who brings comfort to all those in his path.

The Warrior of Light.